Introductory Note:

Fewer things give us more pleasure than introducing something by Lacy Finn Borgo. Lacy, as you may remember, is a Renovaré Ministry Team member and the author of the beloved children’s Christian spiritual formation curriculum, Life with God for Children, as well as several family devotionals.

Below is an excerpt from one of those devotionals, Good Dirt: Advent, Christmastide & Epiphany. To find this book as well as more Renovaré recommended Advent and Christmas books and music, please visit our resource page. Enjoy!

Renovaré Team

Excerpt from Good Dirt: Advent, Christmastide & Epiphany (Volume 1)

I hear the laments of par­ents. I am a lament­ing par­ent. Christ­mas is too much about the stuff. The stuff begins to clog up the super­mar­ket aisles as ear­ly as Sep­tem­ber. My kids are bom­bard­ed by ads try­ing to get them, to get me, to want to buy them their hearts’ desires of shiny junk. 

As a Chris­t­ian I want to cel­e­brate the birth of Jesus in a way that hon­ors him. Advent is four weeks of prepa­ra­tion for the King of cre­ation. When we put it that way it almost seems that four weeks isn’t long enough. Blue is the col­or for the sea­son, specif­i­cal­ly roy­al blue as my eldest daugh­ter reminds me, because Jesus is the King. 

I admit some­times I for­get that. 

With all the adver­tise­ments and the meals to pre­pare and the ever-present Christ­mas music, I can hard­ly think. I can hard­ly remem­ber. Advent is prepa­ra­tion, it’s remem­ber­ing; remem­ber­ing that roy­al blue is for a roy­al King. With all the dis­trac­tion that is mod­ern life, plus the added dis­trac­tion of Christ­mas, we need ways to remember.

Sev­er­al years ago at Ridge­land Com­mu­ni­ty Church, some saint­ly ladies taught me the impor­tance of Advent. They tutored my non-crafty” self through the process of mak­ing an Advent wreath. They taught me the sig­nif­i­cance of prepa­ra­tion for the Christ Child. I am for­ev­er grate­ful. Through the prac­tice of Advent I learned to lean in and cel­e­brate this blessed hol­i­day. Dur­ing those first few years of prac­tic­ing Advent it was just my hus­band and me, and sur­pris­ing­ly, we nev­er fought over who got to blow out the can­dles. Now, my chil­dren take turns to see who gets to blow can­dle wax all over the table. Advent is a sta­ple in our home. It is a prac­tice that grounds us to the truths of Jesus. There are oth­er prac­tices for Advent as well. Pick a few and give them a try this Advent sea­son. Here are a few prac­tices to try:

Try Fast­ing

Fast­ing dur­ing the Hol­i­day Sea­son? Yes! Fast­ing has been used as a tool for thou­sands of years to help us lis­ten. By turn­ing off oth­er things we open our hearts and minds to God who longs to whis­per his great love to those who will lis­ten. There are many ways and many things that we can fast to pre­pare for the roy­al Baby.

  • This time of year strikes fear in the minds of all par­ents who have the fore­sight to con­sid­er all the sug­ar their chil­dren are about to ingest. As a fam­i­ly, save all sweets for Sun­day. Sun­days are tra­di­tion­al­ly cel­e­bra­tion days, even dur­ing a time of fast­ing. Every Sun­day we cel­e­brate the res­ur­rec­tion – and what bet­ter way to taste and see that the Lord is good” than by sav­ing the sweets for Sun­day? Remem­ber we are mov­ing counter-clock­wise” to our cul­ture. Here in the sea­son of Advent, we active­ly wait.
  • Fast from media when all fam­i­ly mem­bers are togeth­er. Evenings are usu­al­ly the best time for most fam­i­lies. You can replace the usu­al TV time with a sea­son­al fun activ­i­ty, a fam­i­ly game, or read togeth­er. Try The Sto­ry of the Oth­er Wise Man.
  • Two Sat­ur­days dur­ing Advent eat rice and beans only. Break­fast, lunch, and din­ner. Dis­cuss what it must be like to have this every day. Decide as a fam­i­ly on a char­i­ty you would like to work with dur­ing the hol­i­days. Vol­un­teer at a soup kitchen.
  • Give up your gifts. Fast from giv­ing gifts to each oth­er this year. Instead, use the mon­ey to buy gifts for a fam­i­ly in your com­mu­ni­ty who has very lit­tle. Plan a covert oper­a­tion to drop off the gifts with­out being caught. Spend all four weeks of Advent planning.

Just Say Slow

This time of year is the busiest. Gifts to buy, par­ties to attend, food to make, and that is in addi­tion to work, school, and kids. On our con­ti­nent, cre­ation has tak­en its cues from the earth and is slow­ing down. Dur­ing Advent, the first signs of win­ter come. The trees are brown, ani­mals are hiber­nat­ing, and the sun sets ear­li­er. There is more dark than light. Dark gives the sig­nal to our bod­ies – slow down, reflect, and savor. It nev­er makes sense to go against God’s already estab­lished rhythm.

Advent is wait­ing time, where the air is lit­er­al­ly preg­nant with the pres­ence of God. Like all preg­nan­cies, too much stress and strain is not good for grow­ing. So slow down, make the space each day to watch and wait as your fam­i­ly grows with Mary’s bel­ly, ripe with the Christ child. I encour­age you to change gears this year. Get off the hol­i­day tread­mill and savor those qui­et moments of Advent. Say No, thanks,” to a few invi­ta­tions and respon­si­bil­i­ties. I’ve got a baby to wait for.”

What oth­er prac­tices might you and your fam­i­ly try? How might you talk about prepar­ing togeth­er for Advent? What ideas do your chil­dren have for help­ing your fam­i­ly to focus on the com­ing of Jesus?

Excerpt­ed from Good Dirt: Advent, Christ­mas­tide, and Epiphany and used with per­mis­sion of the author.

Text First Published November 2013

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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